Alan Watts

Om: The Sound of Hinduism

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This disc features an audio beginner's guide to the philosophies of Hinduism, narrated by author, lecturer, and generational icon Alan Watts. Om: Sound of Hinduism (1967) was appropriately enough issued in 1967, during which time Watts was being heard on the progressive community radio station KPFA-FM in Berkeley, CA. His weekly Sunday morning broadcasts offered many Bay Area listeners an alternative to the traditional and decidedly more formal church service. On a scholarly level, Watts was concurrently serving as Dean of the American Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco. The long-player consists of three segments, including two narrations separated by an instrumental. The opening "Om" is a 12-minute mini-lecture from Watts that provided a decidedly Western approach to many of the basic concepts and precepts of Hinduism. His words are underscored by world musician Vincent Delgado (tempura/dumbek/tabla/talking drum), who provides an Eastern-influenced backdrop. The following cut is the ten-minute "Tambouras for Meditation." This extended work highlights the multitude of moods within Delgado's playing and, as the title suggests, is presented as a sonic guide to meditation. The hypnotic drone as well as the even tempo and pace provide a languid and somewhat ethereal experience for the consumer in addition to its meditative usefulness. The final piece provides a quarter hour of "Readings from Hindu Scriptures," which are again accompanied by the tamboura and tabla. While the modern consumer may consider Om: Sound of Hinduism as a trite psychedelic relic, much of the information and logic espoused has increased in popularity throughout Western cultures in the ensuing decades. In 2003, the Collectors' Choice Music label reissued the title onto CD.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
2 10:55
3 15:39
blue highlight denotes track pick